“The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, & to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them.”
— Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Continental Congress Delegate Edward Carrington
That famous bolded section of the quote above was repeated recently by the host of a local radio show I recently had the pleasure (and terror) of being interviewed on about the importance of local media. Thankfully, it was not live!
On a chilly gray Saturday, Jeff Milchen and Steve Kirchoff, hosts of “The View From Here” on KGVM brought me and Bob Wall, Operations Manager for the community radio station, into the studio for a lively discussion.
If I sound like I know what I’m talking about, I guess, I do. As a former reporter with the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (among other daily newspapers), a current freelance journalist and a radio DJ on KGLT — a primarily music-oriented local station that intentionally avoids the news — I felt I had a good handle on the subject matter. It helped that I came prepared with quotes and stories from other sources to support the assertions I made.
Here’s a link to the recording.
I’m curious. What are your thoughts about the media and its role in preserving democracy?
Feel free to post your comments. I’d love to know what you think.